You read that correctly. There are so many things that have the potential to overwhelm us: work, relationships, difficult life experiences, social media, etc. The word overwhelm doesn’t have a very good reputation but hopefully this can shed some light on another aspect of the experience. In this post, I’d like to share a recent encounter I had with God and what I learned from it, in hindsight.
When God speaks, things happen. They become. They change. They grow. As they develop, they sometimes outgrow their current environment and need a larger, more accommodating space. Stick with me here… A few days ago, I experienced an immense pouring out of inspiration from God. I rushed to write it down so that I wouldn’t forget it. In my doing so, I became overwhelmed with the thought of needing to expand on the concepts I recorded but felt the urging of the Spirit to make a plan (the urging made it clear that I am unable to produce at the level or with the excellence that God desires if I don’t organize the information He provides. What previously worked for me (writing spontaneously), is no longer sufficient. I need to make room in my schedule for intentionality). I could sense His desire for me to meet Him in obedience. God wanted me to make an effort to do the work as He instructed so that He could partner with me to bring it to fruition.
Commit your work to the Lord,
and your plans will be established.
– Proverbs 16:3 NRSV
My being overwhelmed in this scenario wasn’t a negative thing. It was a necessary thing. It caused me to stop and remember two important facts. First, God has a lot to say about what He puts on my heart. Second, because it belongs to God, I won’t be able to produce it well without His guidance. The word commit here, in Hebrew, means to roll or, conceptually, to entrust. In my overwhelm, God was asking me to put what He shared with me into His hands for protection so that it had a chance to grow. The problem was, I was dealing with my sense of overwhelm the same way that I’ve dealt with feeling overwhelmed by fear and anxiety, avoidance. In making that mistake, I learned the importance of breaking free from limiting coping mechanisms. As much as I wanted to stop at writing the things down and revisiting them when I felt ready to proceed, God reminded me that there is a projected timeline for the things He reveals to me. Committing involves action and follow-through, both of which God was, and still is, holding me accountable to. What is God calling you to follow-through with?
When handing the rough drafts of our lives over to God, we are inviting Him to inspect the process, test the foundation, and give us the approval to proceed with the plan.
Following commitment, there is a period of development that can feel excruciatingly intricate at times. The word establish denotes validation as well as the creation of stability and permanence. That takes time. If you are in any way familiar with the process of building or renovating a home, you may understand just how overwhelming that undertaking can be. The details can seem endless and there are many important steps that must be taken, often in a specific order, so that the build can be successfully completed. Within this process, there are meetings with a home inspector to examine the premises, diagnose any issues, and give the green light to continue. This is what God seeks to do with what we bring to Him. Essentially, God is the inspector and perfecter of our lives and our plans.
Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
– Proverbs 19:21 NIV
Continuing with the building/renovating example, there are many design ideas that exist in the planning stages that never make it to the final reveal. This can be a frustrating experience, especially if you’ve set your heart on a particular detail, hoping to bring what you envisioned to life. If we’re honest, we experience a similar frustration at times as we walk with God. He has the final say regarding what happens in our lives. The plans we make are valued, but they don’t encompass a full understanding of the greater picture that He sees. This is why it is so important to consult Him. His wisdom, like that of a home inspector, can help us establish and maintain the structural integrity of what we build in our lives.
Ultimately, overwhelm is a part of the process. Building or renovating homes often takes much longer (and can end up costing more) than originally planned. Still, the end result is often beautiful and worth every moment of frustration. In Luke 14:28, Jesus reminds His followers to “count the cost” of following Him. It will not always be a smooth progression but He is there to help along the journey.
Here, I included a few prompts to encourage you to explore your own experiences in regards to this topic:
- What do you find overwhelming that you haven’t given to God for inspection?
- In what area of your life have you accepted the status quo? Are you willing to allow God to open your mind to new possibilities in that area?
- In what part of the process do you find yourself getting stuck? Explain.
- Make Room – Jonathan McReynolds
- Build My Life – Housefires